Dolph Schayes is a forgotten name in basketball. He was a big man (by that day’s standards) before Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain redefined the center position.
At 6-8, he wouldn’t be a big man today but when you watch this clip, you’ll see some appealing aspects to his game. He was versatile, able to drive or shoot deep, high jumpers (his shot was so high that his teammates called it Sputnik).
After Russell and Chamberlain revolutionized the game, Schayes adapted. He continued to play until 1964 (he entered the league in 1948) and was a 12-time All-Star. His son, Danny, was a successful big man at Syracuse, the town where his father spent most of his professional career until the Syracuse Nationals relocated to Philadelphia and became the 76ers.
For most of his life, Schayes carried what must have been a difficult burden. He was born in 1928 to Jewish parents who gave him the honorable name of Adolph. Adolf Hitler came to power when he was five and ruined the name, which means noble, majestic wolf, for pretty much everyone but certainly for a Jewish kid from The Bronx.
Shortening it to Dolph, which sounds more like dolphin than Adolf, was a smart move and just sounds way, way cooler than Adolf, even if Hitler had never come along and made the name globally unpopular.